Huge numbers of people on Earth are keen to leave the planet forever and seek a new life homesteading on Mars. About 78,000 people have applied to become Red Planet colonists with the nonprofit organization Mars One since its application process opened on April 22, officials announced Tuesday. Mars One aims to land four people on the Red Planet in 2023 as the vanguard of a permanent colony, with more astronauts arriving every two years thereafter.
“With 78,000 applications in two weeks, this is turning out to be the most desired job in history,” Mars One Chief Executive Officer and co-founder Bas Lansdorp said in a statement. “These numbers put us right on track for our goal of half a million applicants.”
Mars One estimates that landing four settlers on Mars in 2023 will cost about $6 billion. The Netherlands-based organization plans to pay most of the bills by staging a global reality-TV event, with cameras documenting all phases of the mission from astronaut selection to the colonists’ first years on the Red Planet. The application process extends until Aug. 31. Anyone at least 18 years of age can apply by submitting to the Mars One website a 1-minute video explaining his or her motivation to become a Red Planet settler.
Text by Mike Wall. Continue THERE
NASA’s Curiosity rover has found what it went to Mars to look for: evidence of an environment that could have once supported life.
Chemical analyses show that a greyish powder taken from the rover’s first drilled rock sample contains clay minerals formed in water that was slightly salty, and neither too acidic nor too alkaline for life.
“If this water was around and you had been on the planet, you would have been able to drink it,” says Curiosity project scientist John Grotzinger, a planetary geologist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. He and other NASA researchers announced the findings today at a news briefing in Washington DC.
Previous missions to Mars have spotted clay minerals. And Curiosity itself had already found signs that liquid water once flowed across the surface. But the pinch of powder tested by Curiosity, from a rock nicknamed John Klein, is the first hard evidence of water-borne clays in a benign pH environment. “This is the only definitive habitable environment that we’ve described and recorded,” says David Blake, principal investigator for the rover’s Chemistry and Mineralogy instrument (CheMin) at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.
Excerpt from an article written by Alexandra Witze and Nature magazine. Continue THERE
At 2 a.m. on 18 July, 2011, nomads in the Oued Drâa valley, to the east of Tata, Morocco, witnessed a ball of fire streak across the sky, followed by a series of sonic booms.
The explanation was as surprising to scientists as to those who saw it fall: a meteorite from Mars had made its way to Earth.
Martian meteorites comprise only 0.15% of meteorites known to science—that’s a mere 61 out of 41,000 specimens. The Moroccan meteorite — which was named Tissint after a village 48km southwest of a recovery site — was particularly exciting.
Because the fall was witnessed, it took only three months for fragments to be recovered, which minimized the meteorite’s exposure to oxygen, rainwater, and other contaminating factors on Earth. This, combined with the dry climate of Saharan Morocco, meant that the meteorite was in stellar condition.
Excerpt of an article written by Audrey Tempelsman, at The Naked Scientists. Continue HERE
A high-resolution interactive 360 panorama of Curiosity’s landing site stitched by EDS Systems. See it HERE
The unimaginably arid conditions of South America’s Atacama Desert have mad it the perfect scientific stand-in for Mars. So in a place that is quite literally almost alien, it makes sense we’d find microbes as strange as these.
Specifically, researchers have found microbes inside some of the region’s volcanoes, which are incredibly dry even by the already ludicrous standards of the Atacama. Fungi and bacteria have been found in the recently collected soil samples, but of greatest interest are the least complex of the organisms, the archaea. Those found in the Atacama volcanoes seem to have evolved a way of converting energy – one of the most basic processes an organism undertakes – in a way unlike any other known species.
Excerpt of an article written by Alasdair Wilkins, at io9. Continue HERE
Directed by Van Neistat, 2012. Produced on the occasion of Tom Sachs’ Space Program: MARS
Artist Tom Sachs takes his SPACE PROGRAM to the next level with a four week mission to Mars that recasts the 55,000 square foot Wade Thompson Drill Hall as an immersive space odyssey with an installation of dynamic and meticulously crafted sculptures. Using his signature bricolage technique and simple materials that comprise the daily surrounds of his New York studio, Sachs engineers the component parts of the mission—exploratory vehicles, mission control, launch platforms, suiting stations, special effects, recreational amenities, and Mars landscape—exposing as much the process of their making as the complexities of the culture they reference.
SPACE PROGRAM: MARS is a demonstration of all that is necessary for survival, scientific exploration, and colonization in extraterrestrial environs: from food delivery systems and entertainment to agriculture and human waste disposal. Sachs and his studio team of thirteen will man the installation, regularly demonstrating the myriad procedures, rituals, and tasks of their mission. The team will also “lift off” to Mars several times throughout their residency at the Armory, with real-time demonstrations playing out various narratives from take-off to landing, including planetary excursions, their first walk on the surface of Mars, collecting scientific samples, and photographing the surrounding landscape.
Text via SPACE PROGRAM: MARS
Color and 10 Bullets by Tom Sachs
Volunteers and professionals at the Austrian Space Forum are testing a prototype Mars space suit in a series of ice caves that provide conditions similar to those on the Red Planet. Humanity is still far away from a manned mission to the planet, but the enthusiasts here believe it will actually happen one day.
Spiegel Video: Mission To Mars: Austrian Ice Cave Serves as Stage for Red Planet Voyage
Click HERE for a day by day report of the activities.
On 28th of April 2012, the Austrian Space Forum (OEWF) invited 20 Twitter followers to the Dachstein Mars simulation.
A Tweetup is an informal gathering of people who are using the micro-blogging platform Twitter. This MarsTweetup is a unique opportunity to follow live the Dachstein Mars simulation, to meet the spacesuit simulator Aouda.X and to discuss with scientist and space experts about analog missions.
Via Karst Worlds
Reliable Internet access on the Moon, near Mars or for astronauts on a space station? How about controlling a planetary rover from a spacecraft in deep space? These are just some of the pioneering technologies that ESA is working on for future exploration missions.
What do observation or navigation satellites orbiting Earth have in common with astronauts sending images in real time from the International Space Station? They all need to send data back home. And the complexity of sharing information across space is set to grow.
In the future, rovers on Mars or inhabited bases on the Moon will be supported by orbiting satellite fleets providing data relay and navigation services. Astronauts will fly to asteroids, hundreds of millions of kilometres from Earth, and they’ll need to link up with other astronauts, control centres and sophisticated systems on their vessels.
All of these activities will need to be interconnected, networked and managed.
Continue at Science Daily
A towering dust devil casts a serpentine shadow over the Martian surface in this image acquired by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona. Via NASA
Color-enhanced scanning electron micrograph of a human sperm fertilizing a human egg. The sperm has fused to the egg cell membrane (oolemma) prior to becoming incorporated almost completely into the egg. The zona pellucida has been removed in this preparation. The surface of the egg is covered with dense microvilli. Once the sperm has fused to the egg cell membrane the “zona reaction” takes place which prevents other sperm from entering the egg. Credit: Yorgos Nikas. Wellcome Images. Via Science Museum
A scale model of our solar system in twelve 500 page volumes printed-on-demand. On page 1 the Sun, on page 6,000 Pluto. The width of each page equals one million kilometers.
This film takes us through the first volume where we encounter the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars and the Asteroid Belt.
Order the set from mishkahenner.com
Artist’s conception of a terraformed Mars. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Paul Scott Anderson at Universe Today: As “we” continue to explore farther out into our solar system and beyond, the question of habitation or colonization inevitably comes up. Manned bases on the Moon or Mars for example, have long been a dream of many. There is a natural desire to explore as far as we can go, and also to extend humanity’s presence on a permanent or at least semi-permanent basis. In order to do this, however, it is necessary to adapt to different extreme environments. On the Moon for example, a colony must be self-sustaining and protect its inhabitants from the airless, harsh environment outside.
Mars, though, is different. While future bases could adapt to the Martian environment as well, there is also the possibility of modifying the surrounding environment instead of just co-existing with it. This is the process of terraforming – essentially trying to tinker with Mars’ atmosphere and environment to make it more Earth-like. Although still a long ways off technologically, terraforming the Red Planet is seen as a future possibility. Perhaps the bigger question is, should we? Continue HERE
A Martian sunrise was captured in this Viking 2 Lander picture taken June 14, 1978, at the spacecraft’s Utopia Planitia landing site. The data composing this image were acquired just as the Sun peaked over the horizon on the Lander’s 631st sol (Martian solar day). Pictures taken at dawn (or dusk) are quite dark except where the sky is brightened above the Sun’s position. The glow in the sky results as light from the Sun is scattered and preferentially absorbed by tiny particles of dust and ice in the atmosphere. When the Viking cameras are calibrated for darker scenes, the “sky glow” tends to saturate their sensitivity and produce the bright regions seen here. The “banding” and color separation effects are also artifacts, rather than real features, and are introduced because the cameras are not able to record continuous gradations of light. The cameras must represent such gradations in steps (bands) of brightness and color, and the process sometimes produces some “false” colors within the bands. The scattering of light closest to the Sun’s position tends to enhance blue wavelengths. The narrowing sky glow nearer the horizon above the Sun’s position occurs as a result of light extinction. At that elevation, the optical path of sunlight through the atmosphere is at its longest penetration angle, and a substantial portion of the light is simply prevented from reaching the cameras by the dust, ice particles and other material in its way.
NASA’s Langley Research Center was the primary and extended mission manager; JPL assumed management for continued mission operations.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL